Can Cats Help Students Read?
A new way to encourage struggling students to improve their reading skills has suddenly cropped up, and it is cuddlier than you might think.
The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, PA, has recently set up The Book Buddy program, in which students having difficulty reading get to practice on one of the least judgmental audiences imaginable — a room full of cats.
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It all began when volunteer coordinator Kristi Rodriguez’s son was having trouble reading. She told him to try reading to a few of the cats in the shelter, and it worked like gangbusters. Now her son is reading better than ever.
And thus, The Book Buddies program was founded.
HOW IT WORKS
One student, Colby Procyzk, had lots of trouble reading and his difficulty ended up impacting his sense of worth. Says Katie Procyzk, Colbys mother, to the Huffington Post: “He’d get himself so frustrated and upset. He’d cry, ‘I can’t do this, I don’t want to, I’m dumb and I’m stupid,’”
Luckily, his grandmother has ties to the Berks County Animal Rescue League (ARL), and had heard about The Book Buddies program. It did not take long for Colby to fall in with the program, learning that reading doesn’t need to be a chore. Since his involvement with the program, Colby’s reading in school has gone up two grades, and he even started reading for his own enjoyment.
In a different case,The Book Buddies program helped Cheyenne Boyles overcome her fear of animals. Previously frightened by the mere presence of pets, Cheyenne was enrolled in the program by her father, a volunteer dog walker. After a few weeks of reading to the kitties, Cheyenne has learned that pets are nothing to be afraid of, and now even helps her dad take shelter dogs on walks.
CATS HELP STUDENTS READ? WIN WIN
It doesn’t stop there, either. Yes, the program is a great way to stimulate interest in reading, as well as provide struggling students a safe environment to practice, but it also helps the cats as well. The Book Buddies program is a great way to get these cats socialized. Many strays are wary of human contact at first. However, after being around children that are simply minding their own business and speaking to them in soothing tones, these cats start to come out of their shell.
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The program has also managed to stimulate adoptions, with parents wanting to take home the special cat that helped their child overcome their difficulties with reading. So, while The Book Buddies program was set up with the only goal of helping children become more comfortable reading, it has evolved into a multifaceted service that helps children, pets, and the shelter alike.
PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.